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Q&A: Can I get a free copy of my appraisal?

Q: I just applied for a refinance to lower my interest rate. Unfortunately, it fell through because the appraisal came in too low. When I asked my lender for a copy of the appraisal, they said that I paid for the application fee for the refinance but not the appraisal fee. And, that if I wanted a copy of the appraisal I'd have to pay for it. Is this true? I believe our house is worth more than the appraisal, and I want to see the proof.

 A: According to the new Dodd Frank Act  on appraisal rulings, creditors providing higher-risk mortgages must obtain an appraisal before they extend mortgage credit, says Mitchell H. Hirsch, a real estate attorney in Hempstead. The act specifies appraisal requirements, including a physical property visit and a second appraisal in some circumstances.

Creditors must provide the borrower with a free copy of the appraisal, and creditors cannot charge the borrower for the cost of the appraisal. Willful failure by a creditor to obtain an appraisal as required will result in liability for the creditor to the consumer of $2,000.

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